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Trail Blazers vs. Mavericks Preview

The middling Mavericks look to take two straight from the floundering Blazers.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

To say the Portland Trail Blazers didn’t have a great game the other day against these same Dallas Mavericks would be an understatement.

The 29-point loss may have actually been even further away than the score would indicate, with Luka Doncic - who averaged 37-11-9 in December and leads all guards in All-Star votes - going for 41 points in just 31 minutes. Yowza.

For Dallas, this is an opportunity to bolster their milquetoast record a bit, as they’re winners of just four of their last 10 games. For Portland, it’s perhaps an opportunity to take advantage of the NBA’s modern scheduling that has them staying in the same city despite continuing their road trip. Maybe the extra rest in a vaguely familiar bed will help them... you know... not get blown out by 30.

Portland Trail Blazers (9-24) vs. Dallas Mavericks (20-15) - Fri. Jan. 5 - 5:30pm Pacific

How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass

Trail Blazers injuries: Justin Minaya, Rayan Rupert (questionable); Jabari Walker (doubtful); Deandre Ayton, Robert Williams III, Moses Brown (out).

Mavs injuries: Dereck Lively II, Grant Williams (questionable); Dante Exum, Richaun Holmes (doubtful); Maxi Kleber (out).

Mavericks SBN affiliate: Mavs Moneyball

Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions

As has been Blazer’s Edge tradition since people argued that Deron Williams might be better than Chris Paul, we’re asking you all to toss some questions at us for the game previews! Look for posts just like this one the night before the game, and we’ll plan to pick one or two (or more!) every game and answer them as best we can.

From SweetFA:

My question is can someone text me in the third quarter to let me know if the game is worth watching?

I don’t have your number, but I’ll send you a DM if you’re following me on Twitter. Honestly, winning against the same team twice in a row in the NBA isn’t easy, and it’s not like the Blazers don’t have talent. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a much closer game than we got Wednesday... but a blowout wouldn’t shock me, either.

From azblaze:

Who starts at center? Seriously. Badji was not ready, our “defensive” unit didn’t stop anyone and couldn’t score. How about Ant, Brogdon, Sharpe, Jerami and Reath? 3 guard lineup anyone?

It’s probably Badji, but I wouldn’t hate it if The Great Barrier Reath got the nod. Yeah, he’s only 6’9”, but he’s less mistake prone, and to your point, Badji just isn’t an NBA-ready player quite yet. With Dallas’ rookie center Dereck Lively II question for tonight’s game, the Blazers might just catch a bit of a break here either way.

From Moorebid:

Is this still happening? Are we still doing this?

Yes. 82 games have the schedulers ordained, and 82 games shall be played. This is but one of them. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

About the Opponent

Dalton Trigg of DallasBasketball.com pulled quotes from last game that suggests that beginning-of-game energy was a focus:

After laying an egg in Utah to start 2024, the Mavs made sure to bring the correct energy to American Airlines Center on Wednesday as they started their season-long seven-game homestand. [Dallas guard Kyrie] Irving taking on more of an aggressive mindset played a big role in Dallas getting back in the win column. “I think it started at the tip of the game in setting the tone, setting our mentality in how we wanted to play for the rest of the game,” Irving said.

Alexandra Skores of The Dallas Morning News brings us a kerfuffle between a billionaire (former Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban) and an even-more-billiony billionaire (Elon Musk) over Cuban’s support for diversity, equity, and inclusion in business and Musk’s lack of understanding about why that matters:

At Chase for Business’ Make Your Move Summit on Nov. 2, Cuban told business owners in the crowd all about his support for diversity. “When people talk about diversity and DEI, a lot of people roll their eyes,” Cuban told attendees. “I’m all for it, because I want everybody to be a Mavs fan and the easiest way for me to connect to them, and it applies to all my businesses, is by having a diverse sales force, a diverse support staff, because people connect faster to people who look like them.”

Bradley Lockett of The Smoking Cuban writes about who Dallas’ ideal trade target ought to be, especially given the absence of Lively:

With the NBA trade deadline approaching quickly, it’s obvious the Mavericks need to make a trade for a big. The lack of production when even one of these guys is out is huge, and if the team wants to make a run a trade for big man needs to happen... Dallas has already been linked in trade rumors for frontcourt players Isaiah Stewart and Pascal Siakam, and only time will tell if Dallas decides to make a move for one of them.